Thursday, June 30, 2005

Job Well Done

We wrapped up the audits 1 day earlier than scheduled today. The auditors were satisfied with all the evidence we provided and with the exception of 2 very minor findings that they highlighted, our team passed the audits with flying colors. I am so relieved that all the hard work paid off.

I decided to celebrate by treating myself to a nice dinner in KLCC. Of course being hopelessly single, I had only a table for one for dinner. Sad innit? Good thing that the food at the restaurant was too die for and really made up for having to enjoy it alone.

On the way home, I stopped at Low Yat Plaza to pick up another DVD season set. I’ve been really looking forward to get this new set to add to my collection. To my dismay when I come back and popped the disk in my DVD player, no pictures come out. Guess thats what I get for buying pirated copies but I have no complains from my previous experience so hopefully this would be just a fluke copy. Seems like that I have to go back and get it exchanged with another copy.

Good thing that I managed to get my boss to approve my day-off tomorrow :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Small Steps

Halfway through the process audits today. Most of the interviews that I arranged for the auditors with our system admins have been completed and they (the auditors) seem to be satisfied with what they have heard up to this point which is a relief for me. I’ve been working my butt off these past 3 months to make sure that every thing goes smoothly for this audit hoping that the management would finally acknowledge the hard work I put in to ensure that they don’t get a write up in one of these yearly audits. I’ve been the go to guy to help prepare the team for the audits for the past few years that I might as well get credit for it instead of quietly filing it under things to do.

So I just have 2 more days with the auditors and then I would be able to put this behind me until the next round of audits. Truthfully that it not entirely true as I do need to continue monitoring the process compliance to make sure that when the next audit rolls around, we would have evidence of continuous improvement and adherence to the process. As if I don’t already have enough to do with what I am suppose to do at work.

In other news (heh), I’ve decided to add a collection of links to my secondary and tertiary alma mater on my blog. I’ve always been very reluctant to put items of a personal nature on this blog for obvious reasons but I thought that I try this out and see how it feels to be a bit more vulnerable on the Net. This small measure of a step is actually both thrilling and frightening at the same time. It’s risky and so out of character for me, the quintessential risk-avoider, that I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of a plaintive cry for attention/discovery.

What would I actually do if confronted with someone who could recognize me from my blog despite me using a nom de plume?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Feeling Under the Weather

I really hate the start of the flu season.

My eyes tear up almost constantly, my nose gets stuffed up constantly and the back of my throat has the consistency of sandpaper. I’m walking around with either a constant pounding headache or that woozy feeling for self medicating with cold medicines. I get really cranky every time I get sick and these past few days are no different. I wished that I could take a day off from work to recover but because of the audits that I have to organize this week, all my leave days are frozen until next week.

It’s sucks to be sick

Monday, June 27, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-05, Airdate: 24/6/2005 – Theater Eliminations

(Image courtesy of

I missed this episode so there will be no write up for it this week.

I had to go back to my parents place and missed that Friday evening and missed a huge chunk of the show. I also missed the Sunday repeat as my brother was hogging the TV to watch a movie on HBO. I did managed to get bits and pieces of the show but not enough to do any reasonable write up to it.

They have put up the 24 semi-finalist contestants photos on the official Malaysia Idol website and I must say that except for a few, I don’t think that I’ve seen a lot of them performing in the past shows. There are a few listed that for the life of me I have no idea how they got through. I very surprised and disappointed that Kar Wei who tried again this year did not get through the theater eliminations. I thought that she was better than some of the people chosen to the 24 semi-finalist.

I will be reserving my judgments on the 24 semi-finalist who I thought to be most undeserving to be in for the next 4 episodes. This time around, I would be able to refer them individually by name and it works better to snark on them personally.

Let the games begin.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Funny Way To Do Business

A few days back, my mobile phone service provider sent me a letter informing me that my current mobile post-paid plan has been converted to a minutes plan. Basically what this means is that I would have to pay a fixed amount of ringgit every month for a fixed block of minutes and SMS text messages. Any extra call minutes or SMS that I use above the specific package will be charged accordingly. So now instead of paying a monthly service fee, everything I pay now goes towards my total call minutes and SMS text quotas. My kindly mobile phone company even calculated my average mobile phone bill based on my bills for the past 4 months. From the average, they have recommended me to take the 480 minutes plan with 50 free SMS texts.

“Recommended” is not actually accurate in this case. They basically switched me over to the 480 minutes plan based on the monthly average that they calculated which by the way included the service fee that I had to pay each month. If the people who actually come up with the calculation were to really look at my monthly bill they would surely find that I hardly use more than 30 minutes of calls each month. In fact, my SMS text total is usually 5 times more than my call total. If I stayed with the 480 minutes package that they assigned to me, I could have potentially wasted 450 minutes every month if I didn’t decide to change to a different plan. Instead of making their subscribers go through the hassle of changing to another plan from what they provider automatically assign to them they should have asked the subscriber to choose their own preferred plan in the first place. Imagine the number of calls to the customer service hotline they could have avoided had they did this instead of assigning the plan without the subscriber’s input.

On the bright side, I didn’t run into too many problems trying to switch my current minutes plan to another that has much less call minutes assigned to the block. It took me only a few minutes and a few questions to verify my identity to change my current plan that would give me a savings of RM50 per month on my mobile phone bill. The only downside to this new plan that I choose is that I get less free SMS texts compared to my recommended plan. I wished that the mobile service provider would allow unused call minutes to be converted to SMS text but according to the customer service person I talked to that day this was not part of the plan. Still the low cost for each additional SMS text and the RM50 savings that I’m getting from this plan makes this choice acceptable.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before

The American Film Institute release a Top 100 most memorable movie quotes today and listed below are the top 25 quotes.

  1. "Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn." Gone with the Wind, 1939
  2. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." The Godfather, 1972

  3. "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." On the Waterfront, 1954

  4. "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." The Wizard of Oz, 1939

  5. "Here's looking at you, kid." Casablanca, 1942

  6. "Go ahead, make my day." Sudden Impact, 1983

  7. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." Sunset Boulevard., 1950

  8. "May the Force be with you." Star Wars, 1977

  9. "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." All About Eve, 1950

  10. "You talking to me?" Taxi Driver, 1976

  11. "What we've got here is failure to communicate." Cool Hand Luke, 1967

  12. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." Apocalypse Now, 1979

  13. "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Love Story, 1970

  14. "The stuff that dreams are made of." The Maltese Falcon, 1941

  15. "E.T. phone home." E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982

  16. "They call me Mister Tibbs!" In the Heat of the Night, 1967

  17. "Rosebud." Citizen Kane, 1941

  18. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" White Heat, 1949

  19. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Network, 1976

  20. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Casablanca, 1942

  21. "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." The Silence of the Lambs, 1991

  22. "Bond. James Bond." Dr. No, 1962

  23. "There's no place like home." The Wizard of Oz, 1939

  24. "I am big! It's the pictures that got small." Sunset Boulevard, 1950

  25. "Show me the money!" Jerry Maguire, 1996

I don’t know if I should be proud or a bit freaked out that I’ve seen a majority of these movies and some of them even more that 20 times at that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Stormy Clouds of Depression

I have body image issues.

I hate so much how I look in the mirror that some days I just have to forcible stop myself from breaking every mirror in the house. No matter how much I try to ignore it, I hate how my face is too wide and my nose is too flat. I hate how my lips look too thin and my chin looks too weak. I look at pictures from 10 years back and wonder how did my face end up the way it did today. Somewhere along the line, something happened and my face got messed up and I hate it.

I hate how I can’t control my weight. I’ve gone from 65kgs to a maximum of 100kg at one time. My waist size yoyo from size 30 to 40 in such a short time that it has to be unhealthy to say the least. Even today my weight fluctuation is so erratic that I find myself gaining 4kgs during the week only to lose it over the weekend. I have to admit that I have been using laxative herbal teas to help me control my weight to the point that I think that I’ve been abusing it. I’ve been so depended on them so long that I can’t be comfortable if I don’t have some every evening. I’ve told myself not to ever start purging no matter how I feel about my weight because I know that if I start doing then I would only hurt myself.

I realize that most of my self-esteem issues stems from the way I think people are perceiving how I look. I shy away from crowds because I can’t stop comparing my shortcomings to other people. I always avoid situations where cameras are around because I can’t stand to see how I look in a photograph. Don’t even get me started on my pathological avoidance of taking my clothes off in front of anyone. I realize that I have not been able to sustain a real relationship partly because I always feel that eventually the other person would realize my shortcomings and leave me for someone else. It doesn’t help that sometimes I feel that people are really reacting to someone’s looks first before the other things.

Every other day, every other hour, every other minute I seriously wish that I can stop hating how I look. I seriously wish that I can stop wishing that I can be somebody else.

God ... give me the strength to accept what I can’t change and the wisdom to tell the difference.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Movie Review – Batman Begins

(Image courtesy of Warner Bros. )

I went to see “Batman Begins” today at TGV Sunway Pyramid today. The one good thing of going to movies alone is that you would almost always get a seat even to a sold out show as there are usually single seats scattered about as opposed to getting multiple seats next to each other. It so happens that not only did I get a seat in a sold-out show this afternoon but I was also able to get almost the best seat in the house for the showing.

A tip for those watching movies in TGV Sunway Pyramid – always ask for seats near M14 if they are showing the movie in theater 1. The whole M row in that theater has extra leg room for people who like to stretch out while watching their movie but M14 is right where the audio sweet spot is for that room. You would really get the best audio a and video experience in and around that seat number. I always make it a point to get that seat if any of the movies that I want to see was playing in theater 1.

Back to the movie.

“Batman Begins” is the fifth installment of the Batman features that began with Tim Burton’s “Batman” back in 1989. This latest entry of the franchise is directed by Christopher Nolan brings the story back to basics to the origin of the person donning the cape and cowl. Gone are the trappings of the BatCave, BatPlane, BatSidekick, BatNipple and BatCodpiece that were all slowly bogging down the previous outing of the Dark Knight. We get in this movie is a leaner and meaner Batman that closely follows the character that comic book fans have known and loved for close to 66 years.

By taking elements from the fan-favorite “Batman: Year One” graphic novel by Frank Miller, Nolan has crafted a screenplay that exposes the mythic character as being all too human despite the mask that he wears. Through flashbacks sequence, the viewer is treated to glimpses of how the man behind the cowl became to be who he is from the moment that he witnessed his parents gunned down by a petty criminal in a dark and dirty alley. In a homage to the source material, comic readers will surely recognize the scene with young Bruce Wayne kneeling amongst his parents’ dead bodies as lifted directly from the comic books.

Even from the first act, the action sequences in this movie were truly breathtaking and dazzling. The rich scope of the sequences can be overwhelming for some but for those who have been sorely disappointed by the pervious installments of this series would welcome it wholeheartedly. The progression of these action set pieces are punctuated by quieter moments that wonderfully flesh out the movie with well developed characters and masterfully crafted dialogue. With nary a hair of inconsistent continuity, these moments are as joyful to watch as the explosive action sequences.

After 3 actors playing the titular character in the franchise, we now have a definitive interpretation of how the character should be portrayed from this movie. Like Christopher Reeves as “Superman” and Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman” before him, future fans will remember Christian Bale as “Batman” when they think of the character. He combines the prerequisite swagger and charm to pull the character of Bruce Wayne much better than Val Kilmer ever did and has successfully projected a better quite menacing demeanor as Batman than Michael Keaton before him. Special mention also should be given to Michael Caine, Morgan Freemen and Gary Oldman for their masterful portrayal of Alfred, Lucius Fox and Jim Gordon respectively. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes who seems at time overshadowed by the great talent around her.

As the main villains of this installment, Nolan has selected a long time fan favorite, Ra’s Al Ghul and the Scarecrow who is an underutilized villain in his gallery of rogues. By selecting a non-flashy villains compared to those who appeared in the previous movies, this movie thankfully avoids the pitfall of the villain outshining the hero of the story. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in the third act of the film involving one of the villains of the piece as I was not expecting it at all. On the flipside, I felt the climatic battle involving the other was anti-climactic to say the least. They should have given this villain’s plotline a better resolution.

The movie ends with an opening for further sequels with a tantalizing glimpse of the possible future adversary. Much like the wildly popular “Spider-Man” movie series, it would be interesting to see where they will take this newly revamped franchise in the future. If this latest entry is any indication, the franchise is in good hands indeed.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-04, Airdate: 17/6/2005 – Kuala Lumpur Auditions

(Image courtesy of


The audition show this week started off with a good singer singing “Masquerade” from my all time favorite singing group, The Carpenters. I am just beside myself with joy for the first time this season. I’m really sure that whatever I said about the show last week has no bearing on the way it was presented this week since I’m sure no one, much less anyone from 8TV, is reading my blog but I’ll take this improvement as a shout-out to long suffering fans of the show like me.

BTW ... guys if anyone is actually reading this, don’t be shy about leaving your feedback on the comments link.

Side note aside, the show really stepped up this week. There were a lot more good showing than the bad which made it more enjoyable to watch. Is it because there were better singers in KL compared to the other audition venues? I wonder what was the percentage of people go through in KL compared to those from the other locations. I wished that they had made all the audition shows that came before for this season like this. I would have saved me the migraines and physical pain of being aurally assaulted by bad singing the past 3 weeks.

Among the many that showed up, a few did stand out to me. The first must be the girl who was cut from last year’s top 30 for forgetting her lyrics. It was heartbreaking to see her fail and I must say that I really cheered for her when she sang the same song at the finals last year. This year she’s back and sounds as good as she did before. She looked much more polished and confident this time around. I’ll definitely be watching out for her to see how far she can go.

Another person that sticks in my mind was the girl who had dyed her hair Ronald McDonald red. I don’t know why but her appearance, minus the red hair, reminds me of Misha Omar. I thought that she has a good voice and sang very well although she would have to work on her breathing techniques while singing. The way she had to loudly take a breath after each verse was a bit too distracting to me.

I was quite excited to see someone from the Soliano family trying out for the show. I was surprised that they didn’t try it last year. If there is a local musical dynasty family in Malaysia, the Soliano family has to be it. I remember growing up listening to the grandfather conducting the RTM orchestra on the old time radio show back when I was a small boy. I thing some one in my family must have been big fans of him back then as I remembered always having the big radio on when his show was on the air. It would be interesting to see how far the 2 Soliano ladies can progress in the show.

For all the good singers there were also a few really bad stinkers that were shown on the show tonight. I usually avoid pointing out anyone in particular since my motto is if I don’t have anything good to say best that I don’t say anything at all but I just have to put that aside for this time. First and foremost, I have to point out the really bad Michael Jackson impersonator. He had the moves down pat but he just couldn’t sing to save his life. The strange thing was that one of the judges had to come back and do this PSA (public service announcement) thanking him and praising him on his courage for being himself and what not. I know you mean well and might be doing this to avoid looking mean but I beg you don’t encourage them. Lets avoid having people who don’t believe in themselves enough to have their own identity in the show.

The other thing that I just have to bring up was that guy who sang Britney Spear’s “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman”. It is not a good song to begin with and to have a guy giving his best impression of Britney and singing this particular song on public TV is hilariously embarrassing to watch. Even the judges were doubled over by the ridiculousness of the situation. I think that he might be better served by doing “Crazy” instead if he absolutely must sing a Britney song for his audition. Wouldn’t anyone at the audition registration tables have to screen the constants first before the let them through? We even had a person just screaming instead of singing a few episodes back when it is clear that this was suppose to be a singing competition and not an outlet for some people to get TV air time.

Well it was a really good show from Malaysian Idol Season 2 this time around. Lets see if this momentum carries on in the theater elimination stage show next week.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Came In The Mail Today

I’m so excited !

The copy of the 50th Anniversary edition of “East of Eden” and “Rebel Without A Cause” 2-disk DVD set that I ordered from arrived today in the mail. I must have watched these 2 movies more than 20 times each but I have yet to tire of watching James Dean in action. He is still my favorite actor even if he has been dead for 50 years now. I remember growing up wanting to be cool like he was in “Rebel Without A Cause”. I also identified personally with his anguish at his failed attempts at getting his father’s approval in “East of Eden”. For the longest time I had my fair share of fantasies involving him in that famous red jacket.

I took a sneak peak at several scenes as soon as I came back from the office and was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of the restoration work done on the file. I’m really looking forward to watching the supplementary material on the DVD. I guess that I would be able to write up about it in this blog once I’ve finished watching the set.

PS: It seems that they will be showing “Desperate Housewives’ on 8TV in July. That’ll be something to look forward to on TV.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Scary Thought

It was reported in the local evening news today that the people who organize the National Service Program for secondary school leavers are considering to add weapons training into their program modules. They are saying that this addition to the training modules is prompted by many requests from the public for the program to train these 18 year olds how to handle a loaded weapon to increase their self-discipline.

I don’t think so.

It is scary to think that they are willing to consider to train these people how to handle a weapon when they are not yet even allowed to vote. These people are not even allowed to buy cigarettes from a shop and yet they think that they can trusted with ammunition live or otherwise. No doubt that they would teach safe gun handling techniques as part of the training module but do these secondary school leavers really need this knowledge?

Teach them unarmed combat by all means if they want to instill self discipline but lets consider the wisdom of putting guns into the hands of children. The thought of these trainees leave the programs with knowledge of how to handle a weapon is very frightening. I thought that the National Service Program was establish to prepare these secondary school leavers for either life in tertiary education institutions or the general populace.

Since when did the National Service Program start training these children to be part of the military?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In The News Today

I read an article in one of the local newspaper here reporting that Malaysia will be on a brink of a HIV epidemic if necessary steps are not taken quickly to stem the spread of the disease. It seems that HIV cases are currently in the increase and that the largest group on record living with HIV in the country are the intravenous drug users. With that in mind, the government is considering a free needle and condom program targeted to these people. Of course there are some quarters in Malaysia are up in arms about the program saying that it is a waste of public funding and that it promotes drug usage and sexual activities.

While I applaud the governments plan to distribute free needles and condoms to drug addicts, I am wary of the effectiveness of the delivery system should a government agency be responsible for the distribution. For one, would they be really impartial to those who come to their centers seeking these free items. Would these addicts feel safe enough to come forward and claim these free needles if they fear that they would be arrested by the police if they came to the distribution centers for them? It would indeed be a waste of public funding if this program does not meet its objective just because of faulty execution.

I guess that in these situations, the NGOs like Pink Triangle and the like would be the best avenue for distributions. I’ve read somewhere that they have done something similar with the sex workers before so I don’t think that it would be a stretch to expand the distributions to include free needles. The only limitations that I see here is that these NGOs are mostly concentrated in the urban areas which leaves those who need this program in the rural areas out in the cold.

I hope that they seriously consider the distribution logistics carefully so they can maximize the impact of this program if they really decide to follow though with it. I do believe that this is a good program if done properly and proper awareness provided directly to those who need it. On that note, the article also says that the fastest growing group newly infected by HIV in Malaysia are those who contracted the disease through sexual contact. I am very disturbed by this fact and have personally heard how some people are wholly ignorant of safe sex practices.

I came to age in a time where everyone knew about the dangers of HIV and AIDS. I learn that sex must be practiced in a safe way. No protection meant no sex no matter what. Going for your first HIV test was a rite of passage every sexually active person had to go through. Somewhere along the way, the things that we learned back then are not passed down to the next batch of sexually active people. Where did things go wrong?

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Glimpse Into a Workday

Kinda of a slow day today at work. Been working hard to prepare the team for an upcoming Sorbane-Oxley audit at the end of the month. One advantage of working for a multinational company is that you get the chance to be audited for one hundred and one different things every other day.

I’m being sarcastic if it doesn’t seem apparent above.

Anyhow ... it is true that one advantage of working at a multinational company is that you get exposed more to the processes that are not necessarily applied in a local company at this time. This year is the second year I have to prepare the team for a SOX audit. In a way it is easier this year as I know what exactly they will be looking at and I have a clearer picture of the current level of preparedness in my organization. There are still things that I’m still not 100% satisfied but we still have 2 weeks get ready.

At least I have one more detail to pad my resume with.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Malaysian Idol 02-03, Airdate: 10/6/2005 - Penang Auditions

(Image courtesy of

I shamelessly admit that I am a reality-TV junkie. I just can’t get enough of them and I have only myself to blame for that. It all started with MTV “Real World” and now I would literally plan my schedule around the shows that I want to watch. Of course not all reality shows are created equal. The best ones for me are those that would have so much snark potential to be discussed with friends on the next day at work.

Closely following the end of the “American Idol”, the second season of “Malaysian Idol” started 3 weeks ago. I have to say that I was really looking forward for this season after seeing the quality of performance from last year’s contestants. I have to say that to date I have yet see any potential for this past 3 episodes.

I have to give them credit for being brave to go an try out for a chance to fulfill their dream of being a Malaysian Idol. Some were delusional about the level of singing abilities but they were brave to try out. I for one would never consciously try-out for something like this unless they wanted someone who could torture people to death with tone deaf singing. I definitely would not even put my worst enemies through it much less the Malaysian audience.

Having said that, I have to really question the selections of auditions that the shows producers have decided present in the past 3 shows. Though it’s a given that the purpose of these audition shows are to showcase the worst of the worst, I really did hoped that they would balance it out with more of the good auditions. I think to date, they have shown no more than 2 of the good auditions in every show this past 3 weeks. I don’t know how it is with other people but there is only some much aural assault that I can handle before I start tearing my hair out.

And yet I continue watching the show week after week.

I’m such a reality TV ho.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

PS2 Game Review - God Of War

One of the things that I picked up during my blog hiatus was my PS2 gaming habit which partly explains why I couldn’t find enough time for my blog. I got it for my 31st birthday last year which may sound sad but in hindsight I have to say that it helped me keep my sanity especially when work got too intense in the office. I seriously believe that nothing is as therapeutic as coming home to immerse oneself into a console game and start hacking at on-screen monsters for an hour or two after a tough day managing projects, scant resources and unrealistic expectations.

Since then, I’ve gone through several titles although I must say that I usually just play them at the easiest levels so I can get through them and move to the next title. I may resort to reading a walkthrough from if I get stuck but for most of the time, I usually can muddle through it. Most of the games that I currently have are either categorized as long drawn out CRPG or short gory actions games. I don’t really get into the other genres of games out there partly because I have the reaction time of a tree sloth so I’m abysmal at fighting games, driving games and 1st person shooters.

The reason for the previous two rambling paragraphs is to lead to my intentions to put down my thoughts/short review of the games that I’ve recently completed in my blog. I’ve wrote reviews of computer games (the last was back in Oct 2003) on the PC before on my blog so this is just an extension of that effort. Of course, not being a professional game reviewer, I can only give my own opinions about the games that I’ve completed. So to start things off, I present to you my thought about one of the best games I’ve seen in a while.

(Image courtesy of

Title : God Of War
Publisher : SCEA
Genre : Action
Platform : PS2

I read a lot of good things about “God of War” published by SCEA (Sony Computing Entertainment America) even before it was released from the various gaming trade sites on the Net. It was one of the very few games that I immediately bought to try out when it first appeared in the local market. I rarely do that as usually I would wait for more gamer reviews before trying a new game. I would quickly find out that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

From the start, GoW sucks the player into an immersive gaming experience. The story opens with a cut scene of playable character standing at the edge of a cliff before plunging down to the rocks below apparently to his death. With an opening hook like that, players are immediately vested into the game wanting to learn what events had led the character to this point of the story.

The controls and gameplay for GoW are easy to learn and most users could easily master the multiple combo attacks that would be the mainstay of the character. Each combos are uniquely detailed that chaining different combos are not only effective in dispatching the baddie on screen but is also beautiful to look at when executed. In addition to combo attacks, there are also other context sensitive button combination available when dispatching certain monsters and end of level bosses. Successfully completing the sequence may allow the player to refresh their health or magic power in addition to the game experience bonuses. For most of the bosses, successfully completing the sequence is the only way to defeat them and move to the next level.

The fighting in the game is perfectly balanced out with the puzzle solving aspects of this genre. Most of the puzzles in the game are easy to figure out and helps to slow down the pace of the game which could be quite frenzied at times. In accordance to the theme of the game, most of the puzzles involve pushing levers, moving blocks and the like. There are also the usual pitfalls, spinning columns and balancing beams that need to be completed in order to complete the current objective. Some of the puzzles consist of several mini puzzles that need to be solved before the bigger solution is available which further increased the sense of accomplishment when the player has successfully completed the puzzles.

There is a sufficiently large collections of enemies and monsters to go though to keep the game visually interesting. Even at the easiest levels, the games throws an interesting mix of baddies for the player to hack at . There are a lot of check points through out the story that the player can start from if their character dies instead of going back all the way from the last save point. Most of the enemies are triggered when the player first enters the area and will not respawn after they have been defeated even after the player backtracks into the area again. This makes this game more forgiving than most but it does not lessen the enjoyment.

I have to admit that the thing that I enjoyed the most about this game is the storyline and the graphics. Players are not told the whole story of what was happening at the beginning of the game. Without a full backstory, players are compelled to continue the game to find out more about the main character as his stories unfold in beautifully rendered cutscenes. The storyline it self is quite dark at moments but it is not without it’s own sense of humor. A word of caution, there are some excessive scenes of blood and gore in some of the cutscenes that might disturb some players. Being that it is integral to the plot, impressionable players should either be supervised when playing or give this game a miss until they can handle the subject matter.

Overall, I thought that GoW is the most well planned, beautifully rendered and immersive gaming experience I’ve had this year. I would highly recommend it to anyone who love a good game in the action genre on the PS2.

Next game : Mad’s Spy vs. Spy by Global Star Software and Vicious Cycle.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

When Good Blog Hacks Go Bad

From what I can find out on the Net, it seems that does not support category tags. Supposedly in order to have your blog entries organized by categories, I have to either use one of the blogging authoring application like WordPress etc or move my blog to Live Journal. Neither options are appealing to me at this point as I’m currently satisfied with what is offering and have no intention to change at the moment.

Would having my previous entries organized into category make them more interesting?
Definitely not.

Would it make the reading experience more enjoyable?
Depends on what you define as enjoyable.

I think that I can safely say that I have been blogging on a range of subjects that are all over the map that having them organized in category might be helpful. If I could do that, people who are only interested about ready my previous film reviews for example could quickly select the posts on that subject instead of having to slog through all the entries of a particular one searching for them.

Of course that would only work if I dutifully categorized each post as I write them.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What has gone before

After an absence of nearly 15 months, I’ve decided to revive this blog space to document my life as I am living it. Before moving forward with that, I guess I owe it to the readers of my previous attempt at blogging some explanations.

1. Why the long hiatus?

Life and work items clashed with my blogging plans. It got to a point that blogging had became a chore instead of being fun. It was not as therapeutic as it was when I first started blogging. Skipping blog entries became easier to justify instead of sticking to the daily entry regime. I could see what was happening at the time but I felt like I was not in control of everything that was happening around me.

2. Why restart now?

For one, I have more time now that I’m not managing any urgent projects at work. Part of the reason I stopped before was so I could focus my resource to manage a global project that was dropped in my lap when the previous project manager jumped ship. Now that that project is over, I’m finding more free time everyday to start documenting my life again.

I’ve also had a broadband connection installed at my house for a while now that would definitely help with uploading my postings. I had to deal with the crawling and unreliable dial-up lines for the longest time with my previous blogging attempts. I’m sure that my current bandwidth would make the whole process much easier.

I guess lastly, I could say that I want to reach out to other people again with my stories. Blogging has been a source of enjoyment in that it has introduced me to a whole new circle of friends that I would not have encountered before had I not started blogging. I’ve been reading about their stories and their life in every new posting that it’s just fair that I do the same with mine.

3. What happened to your remaining “Explorace” season 1 write-ups?

Mark this down as a failed experiment. I did watch all the episodes of season 1 up to the finale and even made contact with some of the contestants in hopes of getting interviews from them for the site. I had all entries planned out and it was to be the definitive write-up for this local TV show on the web. Sadly, I could not follow through with all the plans I laid out.

Writing the weekly recaps was quite the challenge since I was writing them as I watched them on TV instead of from tape. More often than not, I found myself jotting notes of things as they happen on TV instead of actually watching the show. As a result, I found that instead of looking forward to an enjoyable time watching the show, it became so much a chore because I was always worried that I would miss something important for the weekly recap. In the end, I felt that I was not giving the effort it’s due and the entries were reflecting that.

On the plus side, the whole experience did give me a whole new appreciation for people who would write weekly recaps of TV shows like the wonderful people of TWOP :) BTW ... I did not watch any episodes of Explorace season 2 so I have no idea what's happening there.

4. What changes have you done to the site?
For the time being, most of the changes are cosmetic in nature. have really improved the available selection of blog customization tools since I was last there 15 months ago. It makes creating a half-way decent blog page very much easier that it was back then.

The archives of my previous postings are listed in a drop down menu to the right of this entry which allows readers to pull pervious postings by the month they were written. Readers could also click on the mail icon under each entry to email the posting to either themselves or their friends if the so desire. Everyone is free to share my postings around but I do ask that they do so responsibly and not quote anything out of context.

I’ve restarted the comments page for the new postings but in doing so have not save the old comments from my old guestbook. Partly this is because I’ve decide to use the comments options offered by instead of my old guestbook provider. I did however retain my old visit count counter but have not decided yet if I want to reset the count to start from scratch.

I’m guessing that this is enough for now although there are other things that I could easily add to the site from instead. For one, I could now easily add a tag board although I have to really consider if that is something that I want to host on this blog. I’ve seen too many tag boards hijacked for their own purposes by irresponsible readers. Why deal with that when comments tag are easier to moderate.

4. What should we expect in future postings?

I think that I will not be committing myself to produce daily entries as I did before. I’ve learnt my lesson from my previous attempt for putting such rigid schedule and expectations on myself. Instead I plan to have semi-regular entries as and when something moves me to write about it. Some days when I have more to say may result in multiple short entries in a day while on some days I just feel like skipping an entry. Regardless, I’ll keep linking the entries into the monthly archives so you can review them at your own leisure.

As for the content, I’m guessing that it would be pretty much the same thing as what I had before. More of things that are happing in my life, things that I’m currently passionate about, things that I’m reading/watching/listening etc. The details could be banal to some but everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I only ask that they respect the opinions of others as well. If we have to disagree on something , lets just disagree to agree on the points instead of making it into a personal attack.

‘Nuff said for now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Let's try this again, shall we?

I have decided to revive this old blog again so look forward to a new look and new content coming to you on a semi regular basis soon. In the meantime, browse through my old postings just to refresh you while waiting for new news.

Don't forget to leave a comment if you have any feedback on how the site is progressing.